Polis issues order allowing at-capacity Colorado hospitals to transfer patients, deny new admissions

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Posted at 1:51 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 08:05:41-05

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis on Monday signed an executive order allowing at-capacity hospitals to transfer patients, and stop admitting new ones, to help them respond to a surge in COVID-19 patients across the state.

Hospitals will not have to receive a patient's consent for a transfer, if directed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, according to Polis' order. The order also applies to freestanding emergency room facilities.

Colorado's hospitalization numbers have been on the rise in recent weeks, with 1,670 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in the hospital as of Monday, according to data from 87% of hospitals across the state. According to the data, 11% of Colorado facilities are expecting a shortage of intensive care beds in the next week.

The executive order from Polis comes amid other measures being taken across the state. Denver and more than a dozen other counties in Colorado were moved Friday to "Level Red" on the state's COVID-19 dial, bringing with it more restrictions, including a prohibition on indoor dining.

Currently no county in Colorado is on "Level Purple," a new level added to the COVID-19 dial. Level Purple is designated for counties that have exceeded their hospital capacity or are near capacity, among other COVID-19 metrics.

Last week state officials said an estimated 1 in 49 Coloradans are infectious with the virus.

Across the state, COVID-19 is the worst it's ever been, Polis said.

Polis has said public policy directives are a smaller piece in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and avoiding overwhelming the health care system, but making changes on an individual level is more impactful. Polis said it's important Coloradans wear masks, avoid gathering with other households and physically distance when they're out of their homes. Polis anticipated the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be coming to Colorado in December, but it will be months before it's more widely available.